Academic journal article Australian Journal of Social Issues

Islamisation and Activism of a Muslim NGO in Pakistan: Jama'at-Ud-Da'wa as a Case Study

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Social Issues

Islamisation and Activism of a Muslim NGO in Pakistan: Jama'at-Ud-Da'wa as a Case Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

Islamic Service Institutions have emerged as a major international phenomenon in the contemporary world; they span a host of service areas, combining the provision of social welfare with moral messages designed to alter the nature of the recipient societies and communities. The 'civic' nature of these institutions was questioned in the 1990s (Hashem 2006), but has come under increased scrutiny since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001 (Burr & Collins 2006). The global reach of some of these institutions has raised suspicions regarding their complicity in and funding of militant activities--the suspicion surrounds both national and globally active organisations including, for example, Hamas, Hizbollah and Al-Rasheed Trust (Jensen 2009). Their activism is also ascribed a religio-social motive--they want to transform societies along Islamic lines, particularly in line with Salafi (1) thinking (Egbert 2008). The service provision is also considered to be carefully determined with the objective of supporting those of a similar outlook. The opposing view of these institutions, while not discounting the possibility of influencing the recipients, focuses on the engagement of middle class participants in the provision of services in areas the state has failed to deliver or meet the needs of the citizens (Clarke 2004). Though partially reflecting the international concern with political Islamism and the entry of radical organisations into the space of social welfare, these studies do not acknowledge the role played by regional and international developments in shaping the outlook and participation of Islamic service providers. These studies also provide a limited understanding of the relationship between the emergence of political Islam and Islamic activism in the social welfare space.

This paper aims to locate the study of Islamic social welfare organisations within the context of global political developments. Premised on the nexus between the local and the global, it discusses how changes in the domestic or international arena may shape the policies of Islamic social organisations. It aims to do so with special reference to Jama'at-ud-Da'wa (2) (The Party Inviting to Islam)--sometimes referred to as the JUD--that was formally created after 9/11 but is commonly known to be a successor of Lashker-e-Toiba (LET), translated as the Army of the Righteous in Pakistan. This paper argues that the process of Islamisation in Pakistan and the Afghan jihad (3) of the 1980s created the space for greater activism by Islamic organisations in Pakistan. During the 1990s, the LeT focused on fighting a jihad in Kashmir with limited activity in the social welfare space. But in the post 9/11 years, operating against the international environment marked by a focus on counter-terrorism and its identification as a party to continuing militancy, the JUD has increased its activism in the social welfare space. It has moved into roles that are within the domain of the state's responsibility but have passed to the private sector due to the state's failure to meet the needs of its citizens, such as the provision of education, and relief and rescue actions after natural disasters. Though not categorically identified as being part of the jihadi agenda, these activities increase the appeal of the JUD among citizens, with a possibility of increasing their declared and/or active support for the JUD's views on Pakistan's foreign policy.

Pakistan, Islam and NGOs: the context

A combination of Zakat, Sadaqa and Waqf has underpinned charitable activism among Muslims since the early days of Islam. Of these, Zakat, as one of the five pillars of Islam, is an obligatory responsibility upon Muslims to share wealth in excess of their needs with others in need; the minimum amounts specified for this sharing range from 2.5 per cent of personal annual savings to 20 per cent, depending upon the source of wealth being assessed (Ghamidi 2011). …

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